Starting a new business is a bold move.
It takes courage, energy and determination. Selecting the right name for your new business start-up can be a conundrum.
Crafting a name for your new business is a strategic decision.
The right brand name will flow and connect with your customers.
The wrong name will not resonate with your audience.
Something that sounds easy can actually end up being confusing and difficult to remember.
Choosing a great name can have a significant impact on your business success. Getting the wrong name can mean failure.
A bad business name can fail to connect with your customers. And it may cause you legal headaches.
Take your time to really consider your new name.
Go for a simple, powerful name that will boost your branding and your business. Something that's "loud and clear" on the emotions and message you want to take to your local market.
Think of a bunch of names that appeal to you. Get your creative juices flowing! Make a long, long list. Write them down. Forget being critical or trying to cull some out in this initial stage. One hundred or even 1,000 ideas are not too many!
Just welcome all and every idea. You can cull the list later. First up you just want to capture all possibilities.
Business names are competitive.
You want something that depicts what you do but is unique. Go for a catchy, memorable business name. You might want to consider a portmanteau. Consider blending two words to create a new one, like cosplay (costume + play), cyborg (cybernetic + organism) or emoticon (emotion + icon). A mash-up of two or more words can work well, take LEGO for example which comes from the Danish words "leg godt" (play well).
One strategy for coming up with possible small business names is a "declare" strategy. In other words, you describe what your business is in its name. For example, there is "AirBnB" says exactly what they offer - an online rental marketplace for Bed and breakfast venues. For instance, there's "Laser Tag in a Box" it is a set of laser tagger rentals that get delivered to you in a box! People get what it is immediately.
Some of the best business names have been inspired by Greek or Roman legends. Nike, for example, is the Ancient Greek goddess of Victory. You might be inspired by a character or a place. The famous coffee chain Starbucks got its name from a character in the novel Moby Dick. Sometimes you can get your inspiration from the location of your venue, "Thorpe Park" an amusement park owned by Merlin Entertainments got its moniker from the land on which it sits, Thorpe Park Estate.
Avoid hard to understand or hard to spell names.
You will want to go with something that is easy to spell and is phonetic. In other words, it is spelled how it sounds. If you use a foreign word it can get confusing. For example, if you go for "Battle Corps" this is really pronounced "Battle Cor" because bot the "p" and the "s" are silent.
You want to choose a name that won't limit your business in the future. For example, a name like "Laser Tag Kids Parties Smithfield" is too narrow. You don't want to limit your business to a particular product silo.
Ok, this might sound obvious, but you need to check to see if your proposed business name is already taken. Type your front-runner into google and see what pops up.
You will want to register the dot-com domain name. If you are in the United Kingdom then you will want a dot-co-dot-uk domain name. Or if you are in Australia you might go for the dot-com-dot-au name.
While there are heaps of domain name suffixes like .net or .info most people are still familiar with the common .com name. Avoid including a hyphen in your domain name. You want to avoid having to explain on the phone where to find the dash on their keyboard! Or having to add "laser dash tag" onto the end of your radio advertisements.
Consider your exit plan.
If you are planning to sell your business one day then don't name it after yourself. Sure, William E Boeing (founder of Boeing) and Antoine Laumet de La Mothe, Sieur de Cadillac (founder of Cadillac) got away with it. Nowadays with digital marketing ideally you can have a descriptive business. If and when it comes to on-selling your business many people would prefer not to have a business with someone's name.
You might want to consider registering a trademark for your business.
Having a domain name registered is not actually legal protection. You can only get that with an officially registered trademark. Likewise, you don't want to impinge on someone else's trademark. You can do an online search via USPTO.gov (for the United States) or IPAustralia (for Australia) to get an idea if someone else already has a trademark that you considering.
Did you know that we tried to trademark "Laser Skirmish" way back in 2002?
You also need to consider if you plan to register as a company or simply start as a sole trader. There are a myriad of options - LLC, C-Corp, an S-Corp, or even a 501(c)! [But that’s a blog for another day!]
As a business owner, you need to be comfortable with your final choice. After all, you will need to live with the name for a long time. It will be on your business cards, in your web domain name, and you will need to use that name when you answer the phone or chat. Take a bit of time to consider your options. Choose a name that you are comfortable with.
Be aware of local terms. For example, in the USA the game is referred to as "Laser Tag" or "Lazer Tag". But in Australia, it is often referred to as "Laser Skirmish". In the UK and Europe the term "Laser Games" is often used.
So, you've got your business name contenders to a shortlist. Let’s say you’ve got our favorite five or ten.
Next: TEST IT!
While you might think these names are fabulous they might not gel with your customers. Discover what resonates with your potential audience.
Get feedback from your target audience to see how it pans out with them. Ask people who are in your target audience "When you see this name, what comes to mind?".
So if you are seeking to serve Mothers in Atlanta Georgia, then survey Moms from Atlanta who are in your age and net worth demographic. Likewise, if you want to serve Teachers in the Birmingham area, then survey education professionals in England's north-west.
HOT TIP: When you are surveying your list, remember to re-order the names to different segments. If you use the exact same order, then people might automatically discount the first or last name on your list.
Also, don't ask your respondents if they "like / don't like" the name. Rather ask them how it makes them feel or what associations come to mind when they see or hear that word or phrase.
Did you know that the original name of the online store giant Amazon was "Cadabra"? Legend is Jeff Bezos realized that not only would people have a tough time spelling it, but also, they wouldn't really get that it was part of Abracadabra. Even the most successful business doesn’t get it right the first time.
To sum up, choosing a business name is not easy.
Take a bit of time and consider it. You might choose something obvious like “Laser Tag + Your Town” or something totally flamboyant.
Either way, make it something you like because you are going to use it for a long time!